Beauty fixes; the natural way

Did you know that there are foodstuffs that you can use as masks, hair products, and so on?  I am sure you do. In today’s blogpost, I am only going to mention a few natural ingredients, found in products and/or kitchen cupboards alike.  In many products today, natural ingredients like avocado, coconut oil, macadamia oil, and so on, are added to body- and hair products.  We will also look at a few products that you should add to your diet, to nourish and replenish the skin from the inside.

Avocado:  used in many hair- and beauty products alike.  It is full of fatty acids that helps the skin’s natural moisture barrier and it fights redness and irritation.  Used as a mask, or as a bath oil, it lathers the skin whilst targeting dry areas.

Kale:  packed with vitamins, kale, together with cucumber, broccoli, Aloe Vera and green tea, helps to combat free radicals and nourishes the skin.  Next time you go shopping, look out for a skincare brand that has kale in.

Blueberries:  suffering from an oily skin and/or wrinkles?  Then be on the look out for products that contain blueberries.  Loaded with antioxidants, it defends your complexion against free-radical molecules, caused by environmental exposure, which causes ageing.  Blueberries are also rich in essential fatty acids; thus the berries nourish and smooth your face.

Pomegranate:  a wonderful source of polyphenols (powerful antioxidants), that helps to protect you against sun exposure.

Grapefruit:  traditionally, grapefruit oil and extract have been used to ease muscle fatigue, acne and fluid retention.  But it also aids in toning the skin, increases circulation, stimulates the lymphatic system and can help to regulate body weight.

Walnuts:  a handful of walnuts not only contains your daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids, but also encourages healthy skin renewal. If you don’t like walnuts, cashews, almonds and brazil nuts are just as good.

Red pepper:  it contains a lot of vitamin A, which aids in the repair of body tissue, nourishes the eyes and calms dry, scaly skin.

Broccoli:  an excellent source of alpha lipoic acid (ALA), broccoli contains anti-inflammatory ingredients and can soften the look of stretch marks.

There are many other foodstuffs and herbs that are used in beauty- and/or body products.  Mother Nature is full of wonderful products that more and more brands are starting to use.  If you have a sensitive skin or suffer from allergies, make sure to test it on a small area of your skin first; especially if you have never used it before! 

Bananas

I don’t know about you, but I love eating bananas; especially when they are still firm.  If they start to get too ripe for my liking, I simply bake a banana bread or some banana muffins!  Or use it in a smoothie.  Bananas are packed with many “hidden” nutrition and is often to go-to snack for athletes and gym bunnies alike.  Did you know, for example, that bananas contain 3 natural sugars?  Sucrose, Fructose and Glucose, combined with fibre.  Unlike an apple, bananas give you an instant, substantial boost of energy.  Researchers have proven that 2 bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout!  Bananas not only provide an energy-boost, but also help overcome and/or even prevent a number of conditions / illnesses.

  • Depression:  in a recent study done by MIND, it was found that those suffering from depression, immediately felt better after eating a banana.  How come you might wonder?  Because bananas contain tryptophan, a protein that the body converts into serotonin (the “happy- “hormone), which helps you to relax.
  • PMS:  instead of using pills / tablets, eat a banana instead.  Vitamin B6 (found in bananas) regulates blood glucose levels, that affects your mood as well.
  • Anaemia:  bananas can stimulate haemoglobin-production in the blood due to its high iron-content.
  • Blood pressure:  bananas are very high in potassium yet low in salt; the perfect foodstuff to beat blood pressure.  The US Food and Drug Administration has allowed the banana-industry to allow people to know that bananas reduce the risk of blood pressure and strokes.
  • Brain power:  at a school in England, UK, 200 pupils were given bananas as breakfast, at break and for lunch, in a bid to help them during exams.  Research showed that the potassium-packed fruit boosted their brain power by making the pupils more alert.
  • Constipation:  due to their high fibre-content, bananas can help to restore normal bowel action, without the need of using laxative.
  • Hangover:  a quick and easy way of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with some honey.  The fruit calms the stomach, the honey builds up depleted blood sugar levels and the milk soothes and re-hydrates the system.
  • Heartburn:  bananas have a natural antacid effect, so try eating a banana should you suffer from heartburn.
  • Morning sickness:  by snacking on a banana, not only will it keep morning sickness at bay, but it will also keep your blood sugar levels up.
  • Mosquito bites:  next time a mosquito bites, rub it with the inside of a banana peel!  Not only does it reduce swelling, but it also eases the irritation.
  • Nerves:  packed with B-vitamins, it calms the nervous system. 
  • Overweight and at work?  Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found that people who work under pressure, often reach for chips and/or chocolates as a snack.  The results of the study found that you should reach for high carbohydrate foods every 2 hours, instead of chips and/or chocolates, in order to keep your blood sugar levels even and to stave off obesity.
  • Ulcers:  because of its soft texture, eating a banana is a good choice if you suffer from any intestinal disorder.  Not only does the fruit neutralize over-acidity, but it also reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.
  • Temperature control:  Many cultures believe that bananas is a “cooling” fruit, which can lower the emotional and physical temperature of expectant mothers.  In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure that their baby is born with a cool temperature!

As you can see, bananas can be used for many ills.  Compared to an apple, a banana has 4 times more protein, 2x more carbohydrates, 3x more phosphorus, 5x more vitamin A and iron and 2x more minerals and vitamins.  It is also rich in potassium and, when you have the option of eating organic bananas, choose the latter.  If you like your bananas riper, then that is also a good option.  If you are like me, and you don’t like it when the fruit is too ripe, then look for those that are yellow but firm.  It doesn’t matter if there is a bit of green colour around the stem and/or bottom tip; just make sure not to eat it when it is still very green.  If the bananas are too ripe, then make a smoothie, bake a banana bread or some muffins! 

Quiet-time / Mindfulness / Meditation

In today’s rushed world many people struggle to find some quiet-time for themselves.  Meditation has been around for ages and no, it is not some sort of religion.  The whole concept of meditation, is to quiet the mind so that you can relax more, breathe more deeply and come in touch with Divinity / God.  Mindfulness is the “modern” term that is used for the exact same purpose; thus, no matter what you call it, it is a time when you focus on yourself and your well-being.

There are many people that find it easy to be mindful or to meditate and there are those who struggle, regardless what they try.  In today’s blog post, I would like to give you some advice and tips, to help you become more mindful and to be able to meditate.  Personally, I find mediation to be very relaxing (I have a very busy mind!) and it is also a way for me to switch-off and just be in the present moment.

So, where do you start?  How can you become more mindful?  Start by becoming more aware and attuned to what you are doing each day.  Whether it is putting on your clothes, washing your face, eating something or walking somewhere, focus on what you are doing.  If, for example, you are eating, keep your phone away from the dining room table, put it off or on silence and enjoy your meal (and the company, if you are not living alone of course), without any “electronic” interferences.  Engage all your senses:  your eyes, your taste buds, your nose and enjoy every bite.  The French people are a very good example: when they go on their lunch breaks, they take their time to eat, to relax, to talk to other people (not on their mobiles but in person) and they are in no rush to “get up and go.”

Mindfulness / meditation wants to teach the pupil to be more aware, not only of the surroundings, but also yourself.  When you are in touch with your inner self, your feelings / emotions, your thoughts and how your body is feeling, then it is easier to get through life without so much drama.  Some people like and/or attract drama into their lives.  However, the main thing that mindfulness / meditation teaches you is to be attached to what is happening around you.  There is nothing more damaging to your psyche than to stress over things that you have no control over.  When you are stressed, not only does it break down your immune system, but the “vibes” or energies that you send out, makes you unattractive and people will avoid you.  Negative energies attract negative people and situations; the same goes for positive energies.  Like attracts like. 

We live in a rushed age, where even Yoga- and Pilates-classes are faster!  Taking time-out to have quiet time can be tricky, but even just by lighting some candles instead of putting on the light, when you take your bath or shower, can do wonders to your brain and your body.  In a previous blog I mentioned what tricks there are that you can use when you have “me-time,” so pop over and have a look at all the easy-to-do things to help you relax and unwind.  External tools, like calm music, nature, candles, incense, and so on, are wonderful to use.  However, there is an easier tool to use – your breathing!  Breathing is something we often take for granted; it is something that comes very naturally.  But did you know that most of us don’t use our full lung-capacity when we breathe?  And it is not just smokers; it is everyone! 

When you breathe slowly and deeply, you not only centre yourself but you automatically start to relax, become calm and centred.  Breathing in for 8 – 10 counts and exhaling for 8 – 10 counts, is also a wonderful way to get rid of the stale air that gets stuck at the bottom of your lungs! Bringing your awareness into your breathing, helps you to focus and still the mind; it brings you into the “here and now.”  One can also use words whilst breathing, which will help to centre your thoughts and help you to relax.  For example:  when you inhale, say to yourself “I inhale peace” and when you exhale, you say “I exhale frustration.”  Or “I inhale the now and I exhale the past.”  There might be readers out there who meditate and use what is called a mantra.  A mantra is usually a word or sound that has no meaning; it cannot be attached to other words, for example Om.  When you use something like a mantra (a sound syllable), your mind becomes still as you cannot connect the mantra / sound syllable, to other words that will make it difficult and/or prevent you from quieting the mind. 

Quiet-time, being mindful, meditating – all of these are a great way to cope with life.  You are all there is; taking care of yourself should always be a priority.  Life has become so rushed that people forget to tune-out of the madness and tune-in to Divine, to Gaia, to him-/herself.  In Pilates and Yoga, we are taught to listen to our bodies; that includes our hearts and not just our minds.  So, I leave you with this quote and I do hope that you will become experts in being and living in the now, the present, and not run into the future or hold onto the past.

“With the in-breath, I smile.

With the out-breath, I release.

Breathing in, there is only the present moment.

Breathing out, it is a wonderful moment.”

(Thich Nhat Hanh)

Transform your body; even during winter months

I don’t know about you, but when it is winter, I want to jump straight into bed after a warm bath!  However, I try not to skimp on giving my skin some extra TLC, although it might be done less than usual!  Regardless of the season, our skins need to be taken care of, from the inside as well as on the outside.  Summer can be brutal; especially if we are outdoors in the sun a lot and winter’s cold winds can be just as brutal.  So let us look at a few things that we can do, regardless of the weather outside, to keep our skins glowing and transform our bodies.

Going for a lymph drainage massage:  nothing beats a good massage and, when it is one that focuses on the lymphatic system, even better.  The lymphatic system is the body’s “waste basket” and, although it has valves like the heart, it doesn’t pump.  If you don’t exercise or do Rebounding, then the lymphatic system can become clogged and toxins can be trapped inside the body.  A lymph massage is another, relaxing and invigorating way, to boost your lymph and to help the body to get rid of the toxins / waste inside.  Just make sure to drink plenty of water afterwards, as water is needed to help flush out the waste.

Sitting, standing and walking tall:  there is nothing more eye-catching than someone who is sitting, standing and walking tall.  Slouching is the worst possible position to be in, as this not only puts unnecessary strain and pressure on your vertebrae, the lumbar spine-area, hips and knees, but it also restricts breathing properly.  The best thing to do, before you move, is to roll your shoulders back, tuck your tummy in and don’t push your buttocks out.  Be careful, always, not to push the head and neck-area too far forward, as this will cause a curvature of the upper body and pull your spine out of alignment.  The Alexander Technique is a wonderful method to follow.  When you stand in front of a mirror, look at yourself, sideways, and imagine that you can draw a straight line from the middle of your ear, right down to your foot.  Another tip is to imagine a string gently pulling your head up towards the sky.

Keeping our feet soft:  whether you are wearing socks / slippers during winter months, or going barefoot / in sandals when it is summer, your heels can dry out.  A great way to take care of dry, cracked heels, is to use a pumice stone or electric buffer.  Exfoliating your feet (just like your body), is another great way to get rid of dead skin cells.  Soaking your feet in warm water, with added almond / coconut oil, will soften the dry areas and make exfoliation easier.  Always remember to put lotion / cream on afterwards and, if possible, put some moisturizing socks on (cotton socks) afterwards.  The socks will lock in the moisturizer – you can sleep with it or, if that is not comfortable, keep it on for at least 20 minutes, before taking it off.

Body brushing:  body brushing is a wonderful way to not only get your lymphatic system going, but it also gets rid of dead skin cells, gets rid of cellulite, makes your skin glow and come alive.  Do make sure to use a brush with natural bristles; take care if using a loofah as this can be hard on sensitive areas.  Always start with your right side, brushing up towards your heart, then down on the left side.

Exfoliating the whole body:  using a body scrub 2 – 3 times a week is another easy way to get rid of dead skin cells, whilst you take a bath / shower.  Be careful not to exfoliate more than 3 times a week, as you don’t want to rid your body of its natural oils (which act as a barrier against the elements).

Sunlight:  we all know that too much sunlight on our skins can be harmful and can speed up the ageing process of our skin.  Sunlight is very important for absorption of vitamin D (an important vitamin that is needed for a strong immune system and to keep depression at bay).  However, in some parts of the world sunlight is not always there, so do make sure to add vitamin D to your shopping bag. 

Fake tan:  it is not always possible to be out in the sun; especially if you live in a country that doesn’t get a lot of / any sunlight during winter.  Do not despair, because there are (as you know), many brands on the market today that you can use to transform your light skin.  Using a self-tanning lotion is great for people who do not like to tan, or who burn easily.  Just make sure to choose the right brand, especially if you have sensitive skin; and exfoliate around your ankles, elbows and knees before you put it on, to avoid patches.

Whether it is almost summertime, or wintertime, enjoy every moment and take care of yourself; both on the outside, as well as the inside!

Easy-to-follow tips and tricks to stay healthy and young

In today’s modern world, things have become very rushed.  With the dawn of takeaways / fast foods and ready-to-eat meals, many people stopped preparing homemade meals.  Although it is convenient when you need a meal “on the go,” nothing beats homemade meals; especially when you compare the nutrient content.  It is not just what you eat that is important, but there are a number of easy-to-follow tips and tricks, that you can do, to stay healthy and young.

  • Staying active:  for some reason it is easier to stay active when it is not a cold, winter’s day.  However, don’t let the weather prevent you from being active; even if you have to stay indoors.  All you need is a mat, some hand weights (or you can use tins from your pantry), a ball (if you have space) and/or a Thera Band.  Luckily today there are many apps that you can download and follow.  Or simply go onto YouTube and follow someone there.  For those of you who enjoy Pilates and/or Yoga, hop over to my YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRmlb8ZrUkFXhZgeqSOr1QQ, for easy-to-do exercise routines.
  • As mentioned earlier, eating healthy is key:  Comfort food and wintertime, go together like bread and butter, but that doesn’t mean that you have to skimp on eating healthy just because it is cold.  Do make sure to eat lots of vegetables and fruits.  If a salad is not a choice during the colder months, then opt for a homemade soup.  Instead of eating a ready-made meal or takeaway every night, opt for once a month.  There is nothing more satisfying than preparing your own meal; at least you will know what goes into it too!
  • Beauty sleep:  I don’t know about you, but during winter I want to hibernate.  Nothing wrong with that, but don’t stop being active and careful not to sleep too much.  Nobody has an exact answer about the hours you need to sleep – it depends on each individual.  However, be careful not to “oversleep.”  If the room and/or bed is too hot, then you sleep longer and can feel sluggish the next day.  It is said that our internal body heat is between 20 and 22 °C (60 and 71 F), thus make sure that you don’t dress too warm or put the heating up too high.
  • Protect your skin:  whether it is summer- or wintertime, always make sure to put moisturizer on your face, hands, and any other body part that might stick out.  Both sunny weather and cold winter days can dry out your skin.  Make sure to use body lotions and/or creams that have hydrating properties in.  exfoliating your skin 2x a week is a great way of getting rid of the dry, dead skin.  Take care not to exfoliate more than 2x a week, otherwise your skin’s natural oils can become depleted.  If you notice that the cream / lotion you use, is not doing its trick during winter, opt for something that is creamier / thicker.
  • Stay hydrated:  drinking enough water is vital; no matter what time of the year it is.  Water keeps you hydrated on the inside and, because our bodies are made up of between 70 – 80% water, it is important to make sure to “drink up!”  No matter how much creams and lotions you put on, if your body lacks water internally, then it will show on the outside of your body.  Air-conditioning and heating also dries out the skin much faster.  Try not to have it on all day but, if that is not possible, place a bowl with water either on your desk or close to the radiator / aircon.  This will help to keep the air moist.  If water is not your favourite drink; opt for black tea (no milk, no sugar) or flavour your water with a piece of fruit. 
  • TLC:  Whether you go for a haircut, having your nails done, going for a massage or facial, taking time off to pamper yourself does wonders for the mind, body and soul.  Burning candles in the bathroom whilst bathing or showering can instantly calm you down.  A lovely scented body wash or bubble-bath also does wonders to the senses.
  • Taking care of your hair:  a good shampoo and conditioner is key to keeping your hair looking healthy and shiny.  Choosing products that contain Argan oil, macadamia oil or coconut oil, are great options; especially for you scalp as well.  If it is possible (even in winter), try to let your hair dry naturally now and then.  Too much heat can dry out your hair quickly, so try not to use a hairdryer every single time.  Colouring your hair is fine, as long as you use a product that will nourish your hair as well.  Healthy hair, just like your skin and body, also depends on a good, balanced diet and drinking enough water.

There are many products to choose from today.  Personal experience has taught me to read the label and/or do research before buying a product that I don’t know.  More brands are opting for healthier ingredients, for example Avon has a range that has no parabens and dyes in.  Sensitive, allergy-prone skins must opt for those products especially developed for those type of skins.  If you are unsure, ask someone who knows the products and/or do your own research

In the Southern Hemisphere we are heading into winter and in the North, it is time for summer.  No matter what season you are in, take care of yourself, make a conscious choice to cook more at home (you can always cook in bulk and freeze it to save time during the week), take time out for a pamper (even if it is just switching your electronics off to enjoy some quiet time) and remember, no matter what the weather is like outside, keep your body moving!

Satin vs Silk

There are so many benefits to sleep and/or wear satin and silk, that decided to delve into it a little deeper.  Many believe that silk is “better” than satin, however silk cost much more than satin.  When it comes to choosing which one to use, then I think it is always best to decide what you can afford, before buying any of the two brands.

The main difference between satin and silk is the way it is made.  Satin is a weave that has a glossy surface and a dull back.  The weave is characterized by four or more fill or weft yarns, floating over a warp yarn, and four warp yarns, floating over a single weft yarn.  Satin is a warp-faced weaving technique, whereby the warp yarns are “floated” over weft yarns.  If a fabric is formed with a satin weave using filament fibres like silk, polyester or nylon, the corresponding fabric is termed satin (although some definitions insist the fabric is silk).  If the yarns used are short-staple yarns, like cotton, the fabric formed is called sateen.

Silk is a natural protein fibre and some can be woven into textiles.  The protein fibre is composed of fibroin and is produced by insect larvae to form cocoons.  One of the best-known is the mulberry silkworm, Bombyx mori.  Silk has a shimmering appearance because of the triangular prism-like structure of the fibre.  This allows the silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles, which produces different colours.

There are many benefits of wearing and/or using satin and silk as bedding.  Here are a few:  using satin or silk pillow cases are both excellent for you skin and hair.  Satin maintains the body and skin’s natural moisture;  it prevents hair loss, split ends and damage;  it prevents dry, frizzy and dull hair;  it keeps your hair shiny for longer;  it is much gentler on eyelashes, extensions and braids;  satin minimizes facial wrinkles and puffiness;  it won’t’ absorb face cream and serums;  satin is soothing on the skin after facial treatments or procedures;  it is anti-ageing, hypoallergenic, recommended by doctors for chemo patients;  are great for preventing “knotty heads” for babies and children;  even pets love satin.

Silk is biodegradable because it is a natural fibre.  It also helps to retain hair and skin moisture; silk is a natural temperature-regulator; it is hypoallergenic and non-irritating (even sensitive skins would be happy); silk is resistant to mould and dust mites; and it is luxurious (especially genuine silk).

Above are just a few of the many benefits of satin and silk.  When it comes to disadvantages (cons), then there are a few that I can mention; apart from the big difference in prices.  Satin bed sheets, for example. Are better than silk sheets in terms of lower cost and keeping warm.  Silk bed sheets, on the other hand, are better at regulating your temperature, feeling comfortable and combating allergies.  Both satin and silk bed sheets are equal when it comes to absorbing sweat and are easy to clean.  Satin is also easier to clean, is often more readily available and also looks as luxurious as silk. 

Whether it is satin or silk that you choose, make sure to always read the label.  Sateen is not a good choice when it comes to allergies, durability, and so on.  Rather opt for satin; not as expensive as silk, but just as lovely to wear, great for hair and skin when used as bedding and, most of all, affordable.   

Pilates equipment- & classes

In today’s blog I want to talk about the different equipment that you use in Pilates classes and what I think is important to know, when you want to join a class.  In private studios, where there are often one-on-one classes, you do find equipment that is not used in a gym environment.  Let us delve into Pilates first; discussing both private studio- and gym equipment.  There are a number of differences, but also similarities.  You will also notice that there is equipment that are used in both private studios and in a gym.  In a private studio, there are some / all of the following:  Pilates balls, rings, Thera Bands, mats, Reformers, Stability chairs, Barrels and/or hand weights.  In a gym environment, you will find Pilates balls, Bosu balance trainers, mats, hand weights, Thera Bands and / or rings.

Originally Pilates was developed as Rehabilitation exercises, geared towards ballet dancers.  Joseph Pilates suffered from rheumatoid arthritis all his life.  When he moved to America, he got the idea to combine Yoga, Ballet and Cardio (working with apparatus) as a rehabilitation program.  The first Pilates studio opened in New York and here mostly ballet dancers came for help.  As the word spread, more and more people wanted to join; thus, studios all over the world started to open up.  Over the years different schools also popped up, but the basics are all the same.  In the private studios, Reformers, Stability chairs and Barrels, are specifically made for and used for rehabilitation.  However, you don’t have to have an injury or recover from an injury, to use it.  If you would like to work on the equipment, then I personally believe it is better to either do one-on-one sessions, at first, before joining a class.  When one of the beforementioned equipment are used in a class environment, it is best to keep the class small.  In that way you can give everyone the attention needed.

In a gym environment classes are quite big and there is not always space for all the equipment you find in private studios.  Therefore, Pilates balls, Bosu balance trainers, and so forth, are mostly used.  The Pilates balls vary in size, depending on a person’s height.  The Bosu is a “half-ball;” on the one side it is rounded and the other it is flat.  You can use both sides for abdominal exercises, push-ups, balancing, and many other exercises.  The bands and weights are also great tools to use.  Bands also vary in resistance according to the material it’s made of and its length. The rings, that are used both in private studios and in the gyms, are great to use for strength-training as well as rehabilitation and even balancing-exercises! 

If you are doing Pilates, or thinking of starting, I would suggest to make sure that the gym / studio is accredited and that the instructor (s) are well qualified. I have noticed, in many instances, that there are many instructors teaching Pilates, but not all of them are well qualified; let alone have experience.  Experience comes with years of teaching and continued learning.  However, it is crucial that the instructor has the knowledge (know how), when it comes to each individual’s personal health.  For example, when you are pregnant in the first trimester, did you know that you cannot lift your head up when you exercise, as this can cause a miscarriage?  In the last trimester, you should not open your legs wider than your hips, as this can cause early delivery!  These are but 2 examples of what a Pilates instructor should know about.   

Private studios are great when you are a beginner.  Gym classes can have more members and it can happen that the “newbies” don’t get the attention needed.  I am not suggesting that you don’t go to gym; just make sure to let the instructor know about your health condition (if you are pregnant or have a back problem, for example), and make sure that all levels are taught:  from beginner to advanced level.

The equipment used in the private studios are the original apparatus.  Balls are used in the gym (together with the above-mentioned equipment), as it takes up less space.  All in all, I believe that Pilates is a form of exercise that is fantastic for all ages.  Like yoga, Pilates can be done when you are pregnant, are recovering from an operation or an injury.  Whether you enjoy a private studio or a gym environment, there is a Pilates school / Pilates routine for everyone! 

Deeper meanings

In last week’s blog, I looked at the correlation and differences between Easter and Passover.  In today’s blogpost I want to look at the deeper meaning (s) a bit more.  The bunny and the eggs have, for many, not make any sense – as eggs come from hens.  It was interesting to do research on this topic and, I am certain, that some of my readers were just as surprised, as I was, to learn something new about the meaning of the bunny and eggs.  For many years, and still today, the bunny and eggs are symbols of new life.  After a long, cold winter, spring comes and with it, new life. 

So, you might wonder, why am I mentioning it again?  I want to look at the deeper meaning and apply it to today’s life.  In the Northern Hemisphere spring has sprung; birds are coming out, getting ready to build a nest, flowers and greenery are starting to bloom and animals are mating.  In the Southern Hemisphere people and nature, are getting ready for the upcoming winter months.  Everything in life, if you just stop and look at nature, is cyclical.  There is a time and a place for everyone and everything.  Sometimes we need to work and other times we need to rest.  When we stop our rushed life and get in sync with nature again, we “tune in” to what Divinity / God wants us to be, do and hear. 

Many years ago, before the modern world of 24hour-restaurants, shops, and so forth, people would get up when the sun rises and go to bed when it is dark.  There was more of a natural rhythm between nature and man.  Looking at the deeper meaning (s) of celebrations, we realize that there is much more to life than physical / material gifts.  Life itself is a gift and, whether it is Easter, Passover, Christmas or any other celebration, give thanks that another day has been given.

What you do with the day / time that has been given, is up to you.  Some people love spring and cannot wait for warmer days and sunshine; others enjoy the winter with its snow and fire places.  Each season, each day, brings something new.  Just like the bunnies being born after a long winter, so too can you give birth to whatever you want to.  Many people say it is best to “hibernate” in winter and take action when it is warmer.  It doesn’t matter, I think, as long as you don’t procrastinate and let the days slip by without doing something.  Of course, there are days that you don’t want to do anything and that is perfectly fine.  The best thing is, as I have said many times before, listen to your body.  Don’t ignore your inner voice; if you need to rest, then rest. 

One thing you should, however, never stop doing (even when it is cold), is to keep moving.  Humans were not designed to sit / lie still for longer than usual.  Our bodies want to move; instinctively you know, you feel, when it is time to stand up, to walk, to run, to exercise, to move.  For those of my readers in the North, enjoy the spring and make a point to go out into nature more.  For my readers in the South; chin up!  Depending where you live, not all the winters in the South is too cold; so, put on your shoes and go outside as well. 

Whether you live in the Northern- or Southern Hemisphere, make sure to nurture yourself and continue to work towards your goals.  A goal remains a dream until it is achieved.  Enjoy spring; enjoy winter; and turn your gaze to nature for inspiration!

Easter and Passover

Easter and Passover are 2 different, yet almost the same, festivities that people all over the world celebrate each year.  Easter is a time when Christians remember the betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  Passover is a time when the Jewish people remember the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery and exodus of Egypt. 

The above, short description, is what happened on a physical level.  However, there is a deeper, more spiritual meaning, from both celebrations, that I would like to look at.  Jesus was a prophet, the Son of God, who came to earth to teach the masses that the Kingdom of God is within; it is not something that is “out there.”  Being human, Jesus had to go through different trials and tribulations, just like any other person (for example He was tempted, angered, frustrated, sad).  In order to grow spiritually and ascend, Jesus had to stop living a life based on ego.  When you allow your ego to make the decisions and “rule” your life, then anger, temptation, fights and tears, will be part of your life.  The ego is not all negative, but when you make your decisions based solely on your ego, you can rest assured that you will be disappointed quite often.  Ever heard the expressions “his / her ego is in overdrive?”

When Jesus died on the cross, He not only died for humanity, but his ego died too.  When he rose from the dead, He shed his “old self” and became enlightened.  To be spiritual doesn’t just mean that you do yoga, meditate and/or eat healthy.  To be spiritual means that you realize and believe that God / Divinity is within each and everyone of us; including animals and plants.  Letting go of your ego means that you truly align with Divinity; you “go within” to find answers and know that there is much more to life than material things.

When the Hebrews were liberated from slavery and left Egypt, they celebrated and gave thanks.  In much the same way they left their “old selves” behind.  Slavery always reminds me of some sort of bondage, whether spiritual or physical, or both.  When the bondage is broken, a person becomes free.  When you break the bondage that your ego, a person, a situation, has on you, then you are free.  Free to become who you were meant to be; free to go where you should be and, just like Jesus, you grow spiritually.

In a previous blog I mentioned the chakras.  Chakras are the energy balls in the body that link up with the Tree of Life.  In a nutshell, when you are living an “ego-filled” life, then you are vibrating on the 1st 3 chakras.  As you move away from the ego into the heart, you move up to the 4th chakra.  As you grow spiritually and become more enlightened, you move up into the last 3 chakras (or even higher).  As human beings we came to this earth to learn, to grow and to ascend – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. 

Therefore, to all my readers, I would like to wish you all a blessed period ahead.  May we learn to let go of our ego-trips and, instead of over-thinking things, let us tune into our hearts and listen to the voice within.  Balancing the ego / mind and heart, are key! 

PS:  Wondering where does the bunny and eggs fit into Easter?  The bunny represents reproductive strength and has been associated with Mary, mother of Jesus, for centuries.  The Easter eggs represented the Resurrection for early Christians.  The eggshell represented the tomb and the breaking of the egg, His resurrection.

Change is in the air

A Greek philosopher called Heraclitus once said: “Change is the only constant in life.”  Whether we like it or not, change is inevitable.  Changes are the one constant thing that happens in nature and in one’s life.  Without changes, nothing will grow, become better, heal or learn.  In nature we have births, deaths, growth and decay; we have the different seasons; different colours; different ocean waves, and so on.  In life it is much the same:  people are born, they grow up, they age and they die.  Throughout your life’s journey you make friends and lose some; you change jobs, partners, homes, countries, and so on. 

Change can be quite stressful, especially when it something that we don’t like (for example losing a loved one or separating).  However, change is inevitable and, although at times stressful, it can also be healing and a blessing in disguise.  Life is a constant flow of events; it is a journey and not a destination.  Human beings are not just physical beings; humans are spiritual, emotional beings as well.  Being here means we have lessons to learn and we need to grow spiritually.  Sometimes life throws us a curveball or 2, but we need to dust ourselves off, get up, lift up our heads and continue on our journey. 

Ever heard the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”  This sums it up quite well.  It is not what happens to you, in life, that defines you, but the way you react.  The ego can be your friend or your foe – why do I say that?  Well, simply because when you come from the ego (me, me, me), then you will be unhappy most of the time when things don’t go the way you want and/or like it to go.  When you let go of your ego and “tune in” to your spiritual side, then you will realize that all is well.  That Divinity is in control and that you are where you should be at this point in your life.  I am not saying that you cannot work on changing something in your life, but when it comes to doors not opening, then don’t let the ego’s chatter let you loose sleep.  Instead meditate or pray about it, then hand it over to Source.

Nature is a wonderful example of balance, even when there are change.  As we move closer to winter in the Southern Hemisphere, leaves are starting to change and/or fall of.  However, the bare branches are still beautiful against a clear blue sky.  Animals instinctively know that the seasons are changing and that they must get ready – and they are ok with it.  Many people know that you have to just “flow with it,” when the changes come.  Others try to resist it but, the harder you try, the tougher it gets.  Change reminds me of the ebb and flow of the ocean; although the waves and sand look the same when it comes in, it is not.  And that is the beauty of life’s journey.  You never know what changes, new adventures, people, places, and so on, lie just around the corner.  If what you discover is not what you were hoping for, or it is something that you dislike, then nothing and nobody can stop you from “packing your bags,” so to speak, and continuing on your journey. 

Change can be hard and we are all human.  The best advice I can give you is to change what you can and that which you can’t, let it be, let it go.  It is not always easy, but with practise comes success.  The more you just live and stay in the moment, in the now, the easier it becomes not to fret over the future.  The past is gone; nothing can change it or bring it back – let it go!  The future is not yet here, we only have now, this moment, to be in.  Let us make the best of it and, as my gran always said, “look up and look pleased!  Regardless of what life throws at you!”